ASEAN states sign rules to handle military plane accidents

KUALA LUMPUR, Defense ministers of ASEAN (Association of South Asian Nations) states inked on Friday a set of guidelines to deal with accidents among military planes over contested regions namely South China Sea.

The ministers, during a meeting in Singapore, agreed on bolstering regional cooperation against terrorism, extremism and setting up a network to combat chemical and biological threats.

Singapore’s Defense Minister Dr. Ng Eng Hen, speaking at a news conference, excerpts of which were picked up by the media here, said the multilateral set of guidelines would decrease hazards resulting from miscalculations and defuse tension in surprise confrontations among air forces.

It is a significant accomplishment that reveals leaders of ASEAN countries’ concern for boosting peace and security in the region, he said, underscoring the need for collective action to maintain regional stability.

These non-obligatory rules are applicable in unexpected confrontations among military aircraft over high seas and international waters, Dr. Hen added.

Meanwhile, the ministers issued a joint statement following the meeting, affirming objectives of the agreement and noting that although military warplanes could fly over the high seas and international waters, they could not intervene “in states’ activities.” Moreover, crewmembers of military jets must abstain from uttering uncivil rhetoric or making unfriendly physical gestures during flights. Furthermore, confrontations must be dealt with professionally, particularly with respect of interrogation and investigation, and aviators must refrain from reckless maneuvering across the skies.

The new set of regulations to deal with such situations is the second one to be approved at the regional level. ASEAN states, along with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the United States of America, approved identical guidelines, last year.

On another front, the ministers endorsed an Indonesian initiative to overhaul mechanisms for strategic information swap on fighting terrorism and radicalism.

ASEAN was established in 1967 as a regional grouping that promotes economic, political and security cooperation among its ten members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Source: Kuwait News Agency